Summary: Lets look at why Jesus was drawn to this garden. As we better understand why He came to this place of prayer, well see a pattern that we can follow in our own prayers.
Have you noticed how the Passion movie has generated an unprecedented amount of TV specials, magazine cover stories, and a continuous cultural conversation about Christ? Im thankful for that. I do want to give a word of warning, however. Much of what has been published or broadcast in response to the film is actually a thinly veiled attack on Christianity.
The current issue of U.S. News & World Report has a cover story entitled, The Real Jesus: Searching for the truth between Mel Gibson and the Gospels (3/8/04). Thats a pretty intriguing title. Unfortunately, the article states that Gibsons portrayal of the events leading up to and including Christs crucifixion is an exploitation and sensationalistic distortion of the story. The article goes on to say that we all need a corrective curriculum in order to understand what really happened over two thousand years ago. I beg to differ. We dont need liberal scholars to tell us what happened; we need to go back and read the Book! I encourage you to read all four gospels in the next month leading up to Easter.
Let me add that while Mel Gibson has done a great job presenting the passion of Christ, and most of what he depicts is directly from the Bible, there are some additions and there are some things that he leaves out. During this series, I will do my best to address these, and answer some of the questions that this movie may have raised in your mind. First of all, let me define passion. This word comes from a Latin word meaning to submit to suffering and generally refers to the last twelve hours of Jesus life, beginning in the Garden of Gethsemane. Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew 26:36-46.
After the bonding experience of the Upper Room where He celebrated the Passover meal and instituted the ordinance of the Lords Supper, Jesus led His disciples to a place of prayer. Please follow along as I read: Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, Sit here while I go over there and pray. He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me. Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will. Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour? he asked Peter. Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak. He went away a second time and prayed, My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!
Lets look at why Jesus was drawn to this garden. As we better understand why He came to this place of prayer, well see a pattern that we can follow in our own prayers.
1. A Place of Support. We see in verse 36 that Jesus wanted his disciples to be with Him so He took them to an Olive Garden called Gethsemane, which means, oil-press. Scholars believe that the olives were crushed at this place to get oil. Luke 22:39 indicates that He spent a lot of time here: Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. John 18:2 tells us that when Judas came looking for Jesus; he knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.
Its interesting to me that as the suffering of our Savior begins; He wants to be with his friends. We dont think much about this, do we? Jesus had a need for fellowship. Notice that eight of the disciples are told to sit down while Jesus takes three others deeper into the grove. Peter, James and John had also been given the privilege of seeing the glory of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and were witnesses of His power when He raised a little girl from the dead (Matthew 17:1-2; Mark 5:37). And now they were about to see something they had never seen before the sorrow of the Savior.